DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. — Some drivers thought they were dreaming when they saw THOUSANDS of dollars in cash floating through the air and falling onto the road in metro Atlanta.
But it wasn't a dream. It really played out along a stretch of I-285 on Tuesday evening.
Dunwoody police said it was around 8 p.m. when an armored truck's side door opened while on the highway near Ashford-Dunwoody Road, spilling cash onto the westbound lanes. Dunwoody Sgt. Robert Parsons said the armored car crew estimated the loss to be around $175,000.
Channel 2's Dave Huddleston talked to police, who said more than 15 cars were stopped in the middle of the busy interstate while people "frantically" collected the cash along the road.
The drivers felt lucky, but now that reality has set in, people are slowly returning the money.
It's a good thing: Police are urging anyone who grabbed the cash to fork it over -- or potentially face charges.
As of Thursday morning, police say six people turned over $4,400.
"Those people who do not return the money, we have video, we have tag numbers. We have footage of people on the interstate. What we're asking the public to do is bring the money back. Don't make us come looking for you, because if we do that, you probably will be charged,” Parsons said.
Huddleston talked to a good Samaritan who returned more than $2,000 because he said his parents raised him right.
"Shout out to my mom and dad," Randall Lewis said. "They trained me really well."
Still, Lewis said what he saw yesterday was like something straight out of a movie or a video game.
"It looked like piles of leaves blowing in the wind," Lewis said. "I could not believe my eyes that this was legit money."
Police said Lewis and dozens of other motorists stopped on the perimeter to scoop up the cash.
"We had vehicles swerving off the road," Parsons said. "We had pedestrians running around the middle of the interstate."
Amazingly, no crashes or injuries were reported from the impromptu cash grab.
Parsons said the drivers of the armored truck didn't even know they had lost their money until another driver pulled up next to them and told them.
On Wednesday afternoon, Lewis turned the cash he found over to Dunwoody police. It totaled $2,150.
"It doesn't matter if it's finders-keepers," Lewis said. "Once you know it belongs to someone, you really can't keep it."
James Gregory also returned about $500 that he picked up. He said this morning, he woke up and felt terrible, like he needed to turn the money in.
Dunwoody police thanked Lewis and Gregory for turning in the money and are urging others to do the same.
"We certainly understand the temptation of that," Parsons said. "You certainly see the money falling from the sky. We hate to be the Grinch who stole Christmas in July, but at the same time, it's pretty reasonable to suspect this money belongs to somebody."
Parsons said if you don't return the money, you could face theft by taking charges, and depending how much you took, it could be either a misdemeanor or a felony charge.
Cox Media Group